Gutsy Alderwood lands treble
Alderwood came out best in an epic battle with Trifolium to complete a hat-trick in the Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.
The County Hurdle winner, subsequently successful at Fairyhouse, was always prominent in the Grade One contest but looked to have a lot on his plate when Supreme Novices' Hurdle third Trifolium went on between the final two flights.
Tom Mullins' eight-year-old (5-2) refused to give up, however, and with Tony McCoy applying maximum drive he clawed back the deficit to score by half a length from the odds-on favourite.
Winning owner JP McManus said: "I thought he had it all to do when Trifolium passed him, but he battled on well and he's a good, tough sort. Tom had him looking marvellous today."
Alderwood received Champion Hurdle quotes, but Mullins warned that the plan at this stage would be to send his charge novice chasing next season.
He said: "We put him away last September as he was crying out for a break and we just decided we'd put him away for the festivals. The main one was Cheltenham and that came off, so anything that happened after that was a bonus. This is absolutely out of this world.
"At the moment, there is no change from going the chasing route. We'll all put our heads together, but anyone that rides him says he'll make a lovely chaser."
McCoy added: "He's improving for winning. I think he's got a lot of confidence from winning races and he's improving mentally as much as physically. This fellow loves to jump and goes on any ground. He keeps responding and has a great will to win. I knew he'd stay it out well."
Mullins saddled his second winner of the day as 16-1 shot Some Article made a winning racecourse debut in the valuable Goffs Land Rover Bumper.
Mark Fahey sent his mount to the lead before the home turn and despite running green, the four-year-old galloped on strongly down the centre of the track to come home with seven and a half lengths in hand over Catamongdepidgeons.